I was passing through Lincoln City the other rainy day and my mind flooded with all the great experiences I enjoyed in that town, particularly the ones associated with my brief teaching career at Taft High School from 2004-06. In retrospect, it was a teaching gig I should have never left, and I will never forget that impromptu sendoff from the students and the singing of the Titanic theme song in the hallway on my last day. I guess I also won’t forget that moment when a student hurled a book at me when I announced I was resigning. (It missed.)
In my early days as a writer living on the Oregon Coast, I disparaged the town and took my cue from former Oregon Governor Mark Hatfield who dubbed the Lincoln City area in the 1960s as the “twenty miserable miles” because of the terrible and tawdry development along 101.
Yes, there was and is some truth to that statement, but after I started teaching there in 2004, I learned through my own eyes and my students’ writing that there was so much more to the place and that school. I’ve written on these subjects over the years in various publications, but I truly felt a sense of historical vertigo when I rolled past some of my teaching spots, Drift Creek Falls Bridge, Roberts Books, Connie Hansen Garden, Mo’s Beach, Sitka Center, the history museum, Dairy Queen, and the Dorchester House senior living facility where the freshmen English class staged a ten-minute, lunch-time Romeo and Juliet to a wildly appreciative audience. There was also an incredible literary review that nearly got burned up in a censorship dispute and the legendary 2006 poetry slam that I still have on VHS and plan to transfer to YouTube soon. What talent at that show! We also started a newspaper at Taft, The 45th Parallel, that had some truly astonishing writing and creative minds.
I met some of the most special and important people of my life in Lincoln City. They will always be with me. And well, nearby Hart’s Cove on Cascade Head is where I have always known I will end my sentient life.